For most people, fat bulges are something they don’t want. It makes our thighs jiggle, our clothes fit tight and look bad, and typically lingers despite our torturous attempts to eliminate it. Too much of it increases our risk for certain illnesses like heart disease and type 2 diabetes, so for decades researchers have looked for ways to reduce it.
Humans have two types of fat: white fat & brown fat, and understanding the differences between the two, can help people lose weight. “White fat” is the thin layer of blubber we see on the human belly. backs of arms and on the thighs. This particular fat acts as a thermal insulator, that keeps body temperatures stable.
Studies Show Exposure to Cold Causes Fat Cell Death
Increased exposure to the cold helps turn on our brown fat, helping people keep weight off and lessen obesity issues. Researchers have suggested more people turn down their thermostats for a few hours each day during the winter months, and published the study in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
When taking biopsies of patients’ fat deposits, scientists found that in the winter, belly and thigh fat showed greater signs of “browning” than did fat samples taken in the summer. This suggests that cold temperatures facilitate the transformation of white fat into beige. Most homes in winter are heated to around 69F (21C), but Maastricht University Medical Centre advises turning the thermostat down to between 62F (17C) and 59F (15) for a few hours per day. Experts say that because we spend so much of our time indoors in overheated homes and offices, it can cause our bodies to not naturally burn calories to keep warm.
An article in The New York Times highlights a study where a group of men slept in a metabolic chamber that was kept at a mildly chilly 66 degrees. After four weeks of sleeping at this temperature, the men had almost doubled their volume of brown fat, experienced an increase in insulin sensitivity, and even burned a few more calories throughout the next day.
- Moderate intensity cold thermogenesis would be sitting in a 50-60 degree room while only wearing shorts, which is significant for brown fat formation.
- Hardcore intensity cold thermogenesis can be achieved from wearing an ice vest and a pair of compression shorts filled with ice packs. This practice causes the body to start shivering, which then burns massive amounts of calories.
Ice Therapy To Burn More Body Fat
Tim Ferriss is the author of a book called The Four-Hour Body, which includes the concept of activating your brown fat, to boost fat burning by exposing yourself to frigid temperatures. He states you can increase your fat burning potential by as much as 300% by adding ice therapy to your healthy eating and workout routine. A Livestrong article backs up Ferriss’ claim stating:
A NASA scientist told ABC News that’s no hyperbole. In studying the effects of temperature on astronauts, he saw people’s metabolism boost by 20 percent in environments as mild as 60 degrees. A Joslin researcher told National Public Radio that 3 oz. of brown fat could burn 400 to 500 calories daily.
Scientists Find Popsicles Kill Fat, Causing Dimples In Children
The theory of fat cells can be frozen and killed has also been proven through another strange way called the “Popsicle Panniculitis,” that shows excessive exposure to cold from popsicles can result in the dimpling of the cheeks.
The parents of a 9-month-old boy were concerned about the enlarging areas of reddish discoloration on his cheeks.The infant was born healthy, had no significant medical or family health history, had no bug bites, trauma, or illnesses, and hadn’t been around anyone who was sick. His growth and development were normal and immunizations were up-to-date. However, the playful infant had symmetrical non-tender lesions on his cheeks, close to the edges of the mouth. His oral cavity was normal, and nothing more was found.
Further questioning revealed that 2 days before the lesions appeared, his mother had given the infant a popsicles for teething, which led to a clinical diagnosis of popsicle panniculitis. Popsicles, icepacks, and exposure to cold have all been shown to cause “popsicle” or “cold panniculitis” in children. It predominantly occurs during infancy after a “cold injury” and generally affects the cheeks and chin. These are the areas that are rich in subcutaneous fat and more often exposed to cold. Popsicle panniculitis usually looks like areas of reddish discoloration or as red-purple, hardened, non-tender, swellings of the cheeks 24 to 48 hours after contact with a popsicle or ice cube. The subcutaneous fat in adults has predominantly unsaturated fats, which may explain why popsicle panniculitis occurs almost exclusively in children.
Dr. Amy Brodsky, a Chicago board certified dermatologist, was also not born with a dimple, but at the age of six, she injured her left cheek in an accident that was then treated with ice compresses for several hours. Within days, her cheek turned into a solid firm mass, and six to eight weeks later, the injury resulted in a pronounced dimple. For years she thought this was a result of her injury, until she studied Dermatology and found it to be the result of Cold Panniculitis.